Last Spring, I joined the Somerville legislative delegation, Alderman Maryann Heuston, representatives from Mayor Joe Curtatone’s office, and state transportation officials from MassDOT in touring two intersections in Somerville that desperately needed pedestrian safety improvements.
The intersections where Medford St. crosses Washington St. and Somerville Ave. sit in the shadow of the McGrath Highway McCarthy Overpass. Despite the number of homes and shops that line Washington St. and Somerville Ave. and the high volume of traffic that traverses these intersections, pedestrian crosswalks were completely without signals, leaving pedestrians to time their crossings carefully with red lights in order to cross safely. These large, complex intersections made that task exceedingly risky, especially for children and the elderly.
MassDOT began planning improvements to these intersections during the Summer of 2011, and implemented the improvements over this past winter. These improvements have made these intersections much safer than they were, and it is my hope that these crossing signals will allow pedestrians to feel more comfortable and confidant in their personal safety when crossing these busy streets. An image of the intersection before the improvements can be found in this Boston Globe article.
While these improvements to the intersections at Washington St. and Somerville Ave. are important temporary safety measures, the Grounding McGrath Project will ultimately bring corridor-wide safety improvements that will make McGrath and the streets surrounding and intersecting it much more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. For now, however, I am thankful that MassDOT recognized the danger that these pedestrian crossings posed and took the appropriate steps to quickly mitigate that danger.